In this era of sports since about 1990, there have been few true rivalries in sports that are contested highly with respect & honor on the field of play mainly. In the NBA, it was Jordan vs Malone in the 90s, for the NHL, it was the Detroit Red Wings vs Colorado Avalanche. For MLB, it was the New York Yankees & Boston Red Sox.
For the NFL, however, we are living through the prime of the rivalry between Tom Brady & Peyton Manning.
That rivalry will reach another level this coming Sunday night when Brady’s New England Patriots will go up against Manning’s Denver Broncos with the opportunity to play in the AFC Championship game, with the right to play in SuperBowl 48 in two weeks in New York/New Jersey on the line.
|Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning.|
This is the 15th time that the two have faced off against each other, with Brady having won 10 of 14 matchups against Manning. No one will debate that both Brady & Manning are first-ballot Hall-of-Fame candidates, but when it comes to championship wins, Tom Brady will be considered one of the greatest ever, having 3 SuperBowl wins in 5 appearances while Manning only has 1 SuperBowl win in 2 appearances.
|New England Patriots QB Tom Brady.|
If people want to by sheer stats alone, Manning may end up retiring with some of the greatest regular season stats of all time, however, in the NFL & in sports as a whole, we compare champions & the greats based on what happens in pressure situations, ala the playoffs.
Brady has had to win with less talent overall than Manning ever had, especially this season. With not having Rob Gronkowski & Aaron Hernandez available – two guys that Brady was clearly depending on for success this season – he has been forced to look at other options across the field with young guys, retreads and players that other teams have given up on, except that Brady & coach Bill Belichick have helped in molding & making better.
Manning, to his credit, has done the same in Denver. He replaced controversial quarterback Tim Tebow, and took a team who was pretty much ready to win, to a whole new level and made the team almost into the classic Indianapolis Colts teams of the 90s & 2000s. He made Eric Decker, Julius Thomas & Demaryius Thomas into new stars in the league & one of the most effective WR cores in the NFL.
But Manning has done that his whole career, & this season was no exception as he threw for 55 TDs, the most in the history of the NFL regular season.
But if you look at ESPN, NFL Network & other media outlets, you don’t hear about those numbers. You hear about playoffs & championships, where Brady is the king.
This Sunday is a legacy matchup. This will cement some misconceptions, some questions & lockdown the perception of these two great & legendary quarterbacks for years to come, especially because Manning has hinted towards retirement after this season depending on the condition of his neck.
Sit back & enjoy greatness everyone.